Conglomerates: Antitrusters Lose a Round

The Nixon Administration, which seems determined to prove itself tougher on antitrust policy than the Democrats were, has lost an important round in its fight against corporate bigness. Last week a federal court refused to stop International Telephone & Telegraph, the largest conglomerate, from going ahead with one of the biggest mergers in U.S. history—the acquisition of Hartford Fire Insurance Co. The combination would raise ITT's assets by 50%, to more than $6 billion.

ITT has already spread into hotels (Sheraton), car renting (Avis), home building (Levitt & Sons), book publishing (Bobbs-Merrill) and bread (Continental Baking). Why would this aggressive...

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